I just finished reading ‘Beekeeping for Dummies’; like obviously many other (crazy?) folk, I am excited by the idea of ‘growing’ and harvesting my own honey.
For all of my life, ‘alternative’ sweeteners have been the norm, due to my mother’s interest in nutritional health and good eyesight. Honey is the main sweetener we use, being able to find local fresh and raw honey out here in the countryside. With four sweet tooths (or is it teeth?) in the house, we definitely get through the honey.
Aside from the fascinating world that honey opens your eyes to, and the amazing properties of other natural sugar substitutes, why avoid white sugar?
There are several reasons. The most prominent in relation to refractive error has to do with a trace mineral called chromium. White sugar in the body sneaks into the mineral reserves and steals away chromium. A lack of chromium has been demonstrated to be a significant factor in the development of myopia.
Chromium is essential for glucose utilization in muscle fibers, making it necessary for good muscle function. Chromium aids in the process of glucose uptake in insulin receptors, affecting spleen function and other blood sugar issues. Sufficient levels of chromium allow the muscle around the lens to sustain near focus as well as the ability to change focal length, for extended periods.
Chromium is a nutrient that already tends to be a bit scarce, particularly in the standard modern diet. The effect of white sugar leaching already scanty chromium supplies in the body is of major concern in our modern world where sugar is packed into just about every kind of processed food imaginable, and in much higher quantities than our bodies were designed to cope with. Particularly for children on a white sugar, white flour, even moderate amount of junk food diet, the sugar intake is enough to cause life-long effects.
Some of these are visible, such as blood sugar imbalances resulting in behavioral changes, or obesity, but some effects are internal and only show themselves through symptoms such as reduced vision.
It is interesting to note that the World Health Organization listed processed sugar as one of the five substances to which citizens of industrial nations are addicted.
Foods which contain biologically available chromium include: brewer’s yeast, liver, wheat germ (fresh), whole wheat, beetroot, thyme and mushrooms.
Sugar also affects your moods, meaning that a habit of going on the ‘sugar hit’ rollercoaster can be rough on your state of mind and those around you. The boost to your blood sugar level that comes with white sugar is hard and fast, then quickly drops you in the energy and mood trough, looking for the next hit. Your body actually craves complex foods, which provide energy to burn for hours, and minerals to keep all the cell processes going.
Even if you eat a generally healthy diet, containing plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, pretty much eliminating white sugar from your diet will help your visual system to better achieve the required nutrient levels for good eyesight. Be aware that often a craving for sugar indicates a lack of minerals in the body. Try increasing your nutritional mineral intake to help make a quicker transition from sugar cravings to good food cravings, and improve your energy levels.
“Bodies are made of food,” said Dr. Janet Goodrich in her book Help Your Child to Perfect Eyesight without Glasses. Everyday remind yourself that food is both your fuel and what all the new cells in your body are made from. Food is also a comfort and a pleasure. I believe in a diet that is 85-95% healthy and body wise, and the other 5-15% for enjoyment of life in a body!
Whether you live in the city or the country, food producers are finding better ways to process and distribute natural foods that give sweetness without the negative side effects of sugar. Alternatives such as stevia (an herb which is actually good for you, and many many times sweeter than sugar), maple syrup and fruit juice concentrates are more and more available, and being chosen by consumers as the facts about white sugar (and artificial sweeteners) continue to emerge into the mainstream.
Please remember that artificial sweeteners are usually toxic and we do not recommend them. When finding substitutes for sugar, ensure that they are natural products, which your body will be able to enjoy, process and eliminate without harmful side effects.
My favourite, honey, is the oldest known sweetener and has many health benefits when eaten raw. These derive from its antibacterial qualities and the presence of small amounts of pollen (which is very high in nutrients).
Many cultures ingest approx one teaspoon per day of raw honey as a nutritional supplement. Eating raw local honey in this manner (harvested within a 50 mile radius) can also help relieve the symptoms of pollen related allergies.
When used in baking honey helps baked goods stay fresh and moist longer. Be aware that strong flavoured honeys may influence the taste, so choose a mild flavoured honey for cooking. In Beekeeping for Dummies, Howland Blackiston offers the following helpful advice: when substituting honey for sugar in baking, follow these guidelines;
- Reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by ¼ cup for each cup of honey used.
- Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of honey.
- Reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees (F) to prevent overbrowning.
Ask at your local supermarket and health food store for their range of natural sugar substitutes. And if you can find a source of fresh, raw honey, it’s definitely worth it to stock up! (Honey also keeps very well. Stores were found in the tombs of the Egyptian Pharaohs that were still edible!)
By Carina Goodrich
Have you substituted sugar and sweeteners for honey? Let us know by commenting below. And don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming aspartame report, which reveals the shocking truth about the sweetener added to everything from soda to chewing gum. We’ll be releasing details of how to get hold of your copy very soon.